Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was a dream come true. As I handed over the reins of Conjunct Consulting to my successor, I realized that I had the opportunity for a two-month sabbatical before starting my MBA at Harvard Business School. Being big fans of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Candice & I planned and executed a section-hike from Los Angeles to Yosemite for 30 days in 2015.
For those considering hiking it in the future, we’ve prepared a short guide of how to pack, especially for those traveling in pairs or as a couple. This guide draws upon our notes, planning documents, and post-trip reflections. I’ve done my best to attribute advice to the sources I pulled information from.
Insights: Overpack first and ship stuff home later. Share equipment as much as you can to lower the average carried weight per person. Your smartphone does a lot more than you’d expect. Hike your own hike and enjoy being unique.
First three days is the hardest. Be pleasantly surprised by how much ground you can cover as your body adapts to the trail. Hitchhiking is easier when you have a female on the team.
Take the opportunity to reflect via audiobooks. Start and end the hike still as a couple by not being perfectionists. Experiencing the kindness of strangers is a powerful moment. Pay it forward.
Vignettes: Jeremy startled by the stuffed marmot inside Candice’s backpack because he thought it was a squirrel. Embarrassedly learning how to ask for spare water in the first section and thus learning how to ration better. The joy of a thunderstorm when parched. Feeling rejected by thousands of cars while hitchhiking (the better your car, the less likely you are to help -.-). The kindness of the woodcutter who drove entirely out of his way to drop us off at a trailhead. The middle-aged man at the summit who opened up about his rush and dread to descend — his younger brother had suffered a heart attack besides him a few hours earlier and was evacuated by a medical helicopter, and now he had to get to the trailhead and drive to the emergency room to figure out what had happened.
I’ve also included below the photos that show our planning and gear in action.
Marmot & Superman